Bradley is eligible to receive a long-term extension that could make him a cornerstone of the new-look Celtics, but the lack of effort on the part of Boston to get a deal done signifies the feeling held by the front office that Bradley may never live up to his potential.
Flashes of greatness
When Avery Bradley was selected as the 19th overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft, the Celtics received high praise. Bradley had spent only one slightly disappointing season at the University of Texas prior to declaring for the draft, but it was well-known in NBA circles that he had outstanding on-ball defense and that his ability to finish around the rim was well above average.
Scouts who had been following Bradley since high school also knew that of all the incoming high school recruits for the 2009 NCAA season, Bradley was one of the highest ranked in a class that included University of Kentucky standout John Wall. The Celtics took note and decided that the young guard from Texas was worth the risk.
In his first three seasons with the Celtics, Bradley has shown incredible flashes of brilliance on the court. At times, he has hit open 3-pointers, found open shooters, and even gone off for 20 points or more six times. Additionally, he has consistently been able to run the floor, finding opportunities for point guard Rajon Rondo to deliver eye-popping assists, and he has held opponents to a 42.3-percent field-goal percentage, a mark that outperforms stalwart defenders like Chris Paul and Metta World Peace.
Injuries and inconsistent play
But aside from the brief glimpses of strong play, Bradley has struggled to consistently perform at a high level and stay healthy. After an impressive 2011-2012 campaign where Bradley delivered an average of 7.6 points, shot 49.8 percent from the field, and hit nearly 41 percent from 3-point range in limited play, he significantly dropped off last season. In 2012-2013, Bradley made only 40.2 percent of his shots from the field and sunk a disappointing 31.7 percent of 3-pointers.
He also struggled to stay healthy for his second straight season, fighting through lingering shoulder problems due to the dislocation he suffered in the 2012 playoffs and an injury to his rib. With so many ailments, some experts have questioned whether Bradley is capable of staying healthy for an entire NBA season.
Lack of faith from the Celtics' front office
Because of his inconsistent offensive play and his inability to stay on the court, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is understandably concerned about offering Bradley a long-term deal worth big dollars. However, the Celtics are now in the midst of rebuilding for the future, and if a still very young Avery Bradley can improve his shooting and stay healthy, he could be a major part of Boston's plans. This makes the upcoming season for the Celtics and for Bradley a very important one.
Bradley must now compete for playing time with young scorers Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks, as well as veterans Courtney Lee and Keith Bogans. But if he can continue to stand out on the defensive side of the ball while improving on the strong offensive numbers he displayed in 2011-2012, then you should expect to see Bradley locked up for at least three years at the end of the season.
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Justin Haskins is a New England native and journalism student at Regent University. He has been obsessively following Boston professional sports for 10 years and has been published in numerous online publications and websites.
- Sports & Recreation
- Boston Celtics
- Avery Bradley